Raqs Media Collective & Iswanto Hartono
b. 1972, Indonesia
Raqs Media Collective was recently paired with Iswanto Hartono, an artist with the Jakarta based collective Ruangrupa by the curator Agung Hujatnijennong to do a collaborative work for the Bandung Pavilion in the Cities section of the Shanghai Biennale. The work would be based on instructions sent by Raqs which were to be translated into a concrete material form by Iswanto Hartono. Raqs devised a set of instructions that went back to the idea of the Pancasila (Five Pillars). There were one, two, three ‘pancasilas’ in the air in the late 40s and 1950s – in Indonesia, India and China. Generally, these were pithy statements of a state’s philosophy (Indonesia, 1949), principles of relations between states (India and China, 1954), and a charter of principles for the conduct of newly decolonized states (Bandung Conference, 1955). These principles, especially as they came to be developed as frameworks for the relations between sovereign powers, were generally expressed through a set of negations – ‘mutual non interference’, ‘mutual non aggression’, ending in the most classic negation of all – ‘non-alignment’. Inspired by these multiplying negations, Raqs offered a modest proposal for a new set of Pancasila principles. These are not to be seen as drafts of the statements that states make to and between themselves. These are simply some desires that we as citizens, might have of states, and of the relations between them. “This is how we would like to be governed, if we have to be governed.”
The Raqs Media Collective, based in Delhi, enjoys playing a plurality of roles, often appearing as artists, occasionally as curators, sometimes as philosophical agent provocateurs. They make contemporary art, they have also made films, curated exhibitions, edited books, staged events, collaborated with architects, computer programmers, writers and theatre directors and have founded processes that have left deep impacts on contemporary culture in India. Raqs (pron. rux) follows its self-declared imperative of ‘kinetic contemplation’ to produce a trajectory that is restless in terms of the forms and methods that it deploys even as it achieves a consistency of speculative procedures.
(Text: EVA 2014, AGITATIONISM, catalogue)
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